Help stop self injury

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2004

Recently, I have discovered that someone very close to me has been "cutting." If you do not know what I am talking about, this is a type self injury; harm that one inflicts upon their self when the pressures of daily life become too much. I admit that I am no expert on the subject, but I hope this letter brings about awareness. Everything I know about this topic has come from research I've done on the Internet.

The cause may be different for every person, but one of the main reasons given for self injury was: "a way of dealing with unpleasant or overwhelming emotions thoughts or situations." This condition can affect anyone, any age, anywhere. Self Injury is not limited to cutting, but includes scratching, picking, burning and bruising. I read testimonials where in some cases the person pulled out their hair or broke bones. For me, this was very upsetting, especially that someone I love and care for would feel that self injury was an option for coping with the stresses of life. I didn't understand it because I didn't know anything about it.

After researching the subject, I found that there are things that friends and family can do for a loved one who suffers from self injury:

1. Don't take it personally. This is not about you.

2. Get Educated. Learn everything you can about the diagnosis and treatment of self injury. Type "self injury" in Google. You'll find many helpful Web sites.

3. Be Supportive. Don't be judgmental. It may be hard to understand, but it is important to be as encouraging as possible.

4. Get Help. Your loved one may not want it, but they need it. They will not be able to stop on their own. Get help as soon as possible.

I hope that those who self-injure know that they are not alone and that there is help available, and that friends and families of those who self injure have the courage and strength to see that their loved ones receive the care they need.

Christin Howard


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